C'MON C'MON Is A Touching Look To The Past, Present and Future
The human condition and existence is deeply fragile, overly complicated, and rarely ever gentle to all of us. Each one of us experiences their own unique path which can be fun, stressful, scary, and so much more all at once. But as tough as it is and and confusing as it can be, its beauty shines often and from the most unexpected of places. From being in a new place for to hearing a random line of thinking from an adult or a young child, this world is simply full of so much, for better or for worse.
Whether we care to realize it or not, or more importantly whether we want to admit it to ourselves and others, we are ever shifting and evolving by the day due to the people we meet and the experiences we have. People are afraid of change and most likely always be; that's a given. However mundane or chaotic, unplanned or organized, life is rarely stagnant. Mike Mills’ C'mon C'mon is simply a breathtaking slice of all this and so much more. Whether I'm making any sense of my thoughts as I write them is up to the individual reader and their experiences I suppose. But if the film makes any point, it’s that immortalizing the impact something has on your life, or more importantly, making note of that feeling, is one of the most important things we as humans can do. At the end of the day it’s one of the few things we truly have in this short little existence, and to not capitalize on it whenever possible would be a travesty.
Full of stark black-and-white imagery throughout the country, Mills' film follows a breathtaking Joaquin Phoenix as he interviews children about the future. Immediately, we see Phoenix as someone who is very clearly reserved and has no problem taking the backseat in favor of his subjects' stories, thoughts, and random musings. It's a deeply subtle and nuanced performance, that at no point feels like acting. It's as if Phoenix woke up one day in the body of this person and cameras just so happened to be rolling. He rolls with the punches as they come, and in C'mon C'mon, they just so happen to come in the shape of his nine-year-old nephew, played by Woody Norman, who is equally as revelatory. This film does not work as well as it does without Norman, and he rises to the challenge in a deeply authentic manner.
I think what's most impressive about this film is how much Mills manages to fit in while never having it feel bloated. It deals with the death of a parent, the turmoil of interpersonal relationships, mental illness, the human condition. It even ruminates on the concept of filmmaking and documentary journalism; all in under 120 minutes! It's incredibly clear that a lot of this is drawn from deeply personal parts of Mills' life, and for that, the film truly feels like a piece of his soul that you become enveloped by. It's a true privilege for him to reveal so much of himself in this way, and it speaks to the power of cinema itself.
To put it frankly, C'mon C'mon is one of those films that reminds you of the power of the medium. As I openly cried in the theater alone, watching the credits roll by and the lights slowly turn back on, I didn't want to leave. The film seamlessly takes you into its arms and comforts you as it makes you laugh, cry, and ponder not only what has happened to you, but what's coming next. Sure, that's a bit scary, but it can also be so exciting. The endless possibilities are just beyond our reach, and before we know it, they'll be long behind us after we live through them and don't even realize. But we can remember, and hopefully, we'll have plenty of people to remind us all along the way.